The 31st May was a special day as it was the eve of our 1st month as a married couple. I decided to make it an occasion. What fun we had!
I made homemade pesto and guacamole served with fresh rye bread with olives and a olive oil/balsamic vinegar dip followed by polenta with pork topped with spinach and cherry tomatoes.
We started the evening off with a cold glass of bubbly. We still had a few bottles left over from our wedding reception – how fitting indeed.
As a trained chef, I know how to make pesto and have done it professionally many times but it was the first time trying it out at home (new blender).
As you do, you meticulously search for the best and freshest ingredients – can you smell the garlic and basil, not to forget the peppery smell of rocket after you have freshly rinsed it in cold water.
I used a stick blender to make the pesto as it allows the pesto to stay a bit bity.
Chopped garlic, rocket and olive oil get blended together first
We add the mixed nuts
At this stage, we added the fresh basil and parmesan. Do not forget to season with salt and pepper
My wife Cindy and I sat down and tucked into warm bread and pesto, dipped the bread in the olive oil and balsamic infusion while enjoying our champagne.
I still had the main course to prepare so not too much indulgence for me – I kept a glass of champagne close by hand, as you do!
The main course did have some timing involved as the pork needed to be perfectly prepared and the polenta needs constant stirring.
Start on your pork chop first as it takes a little while to cook. I basically, seasoned the meat with salt and pepper combined withItalian dried herbs before placing in a pan on medium heat for about ten minutes until ever so slightly pink in the middle. Do not overcook the meat, as it will go dry! The polenta is very easy to make but needs some attention. Do not walk away from it or it will go lumpy. Polenta is very Italian and used in many ways from fresh to baked to name but a few. To make the polenta boil a litre of water, once boiling turn down the heat to a low simmer and add 250 grams of polenta. This amount serves 2-3 people. Make sure you stir well when adding the polenta and continue to simmer until you have a nice creamy consistency. You can add more water if necessary. Be sure to taste and once smooth it is ready, and do not forget to season slightly with salt. This will bring out the flavour, but try not to overdo it as the meat and sauce are also going to be seasoned. It is a balancing act.
As for the sauce, sauté a good handful of sliced brown mushrooms until you notice them developing a nice colour. At this point, you turn down the heat and add some chopped garlic and season. Add good vegetable stock, about 150 ml and simmer until the sauce has thickened.
In a separate pan sauté halved cherry tomatoes and fresh baby spinach – do not forget to rinse- until the spinach starts to wilt, slightly season and remove from the heat.
When you serve, place the polenta in the middle of the plate and pour some of the sauce over. Now, add the tomatoes and spinach and finally place the pork chop at an angle on top, finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
It was an excellent meal well worth the effort and truly an evening to remember!